Emma of Normandy (984 – 1052)

Emma receiving the Encomium (a story of her life), in The Encomium of Queen Emma, c. 1050
  • Emma was born in Normandy (modern day France) as the daughter of a Duke ( an important woman). In 1002 Emma was sent to England to become the wife of the Anglo-Saxon King of England – Aethelred. Emma and Aethelred had two sons including Edward – who became King. His nickname was Edward the Confessor.
  • Aethelred was having problems with Viking raids onto his land. However many Danes had settled in English towns since the time of Guthrum 15o years previously.  In one violent incident – known as the St Brice’s Day Massacre – Aethelred ordered the massacre of all Danes living in English territory to take place on 13 November 1002; it was St Brice’s Day.
  • In 1013 Viking Sweyn Forkbeard invaded England and took the crown from Aethelred. Emma fled back to Normandy, but she was back in 1014 after Forkbeard died.
  • King Aethelred died in 1016, leaving her a widow and the Vikings were read to take the throne again. In 1017 Emma was forced to marry the new Danish King of England, Cnut.
  • Emma had another son with Cnut – named Harthacnut, as well as a daughter, Gunhilda of Denmark.
  • In 1040, Emma’s sons Harthacnut and Edward (the Confessor) became kings of England. Harthacnut died in 1042, leaving Edward as sole king.